The City of Norfolk is gearing up to host the MEAC tournament for the first time in 15 years.
Men's and women's basketball teams will compete at the Norfolk Scope in the coming week. Local favorites Norfolk State University and Hampton University are among them.
And with the teams comes family, friends and fans - thousands of them. They are expected to energize the local economy, on what would typically be a slow winter weekend.
"We're literally two minutes in walking distance from the Scope, so we would love for everyone to come see us," said Sidney Evans, an employee at Buffalo Wild Wings in downtown Norfolk.
The restaurant is hoping to fill seats before, during and after the games. Buffalo Wild Wings will extend its hours during the week to cater to MEAC tournament fans.
"One hundred percent of the store is going to be working. Everybody. No days off," said Evans, "The expectation is through the roof for it."
Some of the players and coaches are already in downtown Norfolk. A handful spent last night at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel.
"We actually have four teams, two of the girls' teams are staying with us, and two of the men's teams," said Tim Peters, the general manager of the Sheraton. "We're honored to have all four of them here."
Most of the schools in the MEAC are less than five hours away, making Norfolk a central location. The scenario is ideal for local hotels, with the goal of drawing large groups during the otherwise slow winter season.
"Early March is hit or miss, whether or not we are able to book conventions or large groups, but to have MEAC here for the next three years, it has made us all very comfortable we are going to have business on these weekends," said Peters.
The teams will need a good night's sleep before tipoff on Monday.
"Go Norfolk State!" said Kevin Moseley, a longtime fan. "It's big times, lot of excitement. I can't wait!"
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